Trials & Litigation

Latest issue in big-bucks Michael Jackson death case: Did one lawyer give another the finger?

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A trial over the death of pop singer Michael Jackson could, if his family’s lawsuit against a concert promoter is successful, result in a verdict of millions or even billions of dollars.

But before the Los Angeles trial could proceed Monday, County Superior Court Judge Yvette Palazuelos had to deal with another issue—whether the attorney for the Jackson family gave opposing counsel the finger, the Los Angeles Times reports.

In a conference in chambers, attorney Marvin Putnam, who represents AEG Live, complained that attorney Brian Panish, who represents Jackson’s mother and children, had twice given him the finger. Panish denied doing so. The judge said she hadn’t seen such a gesture but told Panish that if it had happened, it would have to stop.

“I have been trying my best, in light of the conduct of counsel, to be civil. I’ve never had an issue in 100 jury trials with civility until this case,” Panish told Palazuelos, adding: “I didn’t give Mr. Putnam the finger. If he wants me to give him the finger, I’m happy to do that. Now, have I been upset with them? Yes, absolutely. Was I upset with their witnesses? Absolutely. No question. I don’t deny that.”

At issue in the wrongful death case is whether AEG Live, because the company allegedly hired and controlled Jackson’s personal physician, Conrad Murray, was responsible for the singer’s death. Murray was convicted in 2011 of involuntary manslaughter for violating the standard of care by giving Jackson propofol, a powerful anesthetic ordinarily administered in a hospital setting, and then leaving him unattended. Acute propofol intoxication was determined to have caused Jackson’s death in 2009.

See also: “Conrad Murray Gets 4-Year Max in Death of Michael Jackson; Judge Cites ‘Cycle of Horrible Medicine’” “Big-bucks jury question: Did concert promoter select or supervise Michael Jackson’s personal doctor?” “Candy issue at Michael Jackson trial is resolved” “Wrongful-death defendant’s lawyer called Michael Jackson ‘the freak’ in email shown to jurors”

Updated at 3:25 p.m. to restore hidden text.

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